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Op-Ed

Only love can end all conflicts

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By EMN Updated: Jan 10, 2014 11:46 pm
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‘MULLINGS’

Easterine Kire

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the late nineties, in a South African township, a young woman was leaving a restaurant after dinner in the company of friends when protesters shot her to death. She was white. Her attackers were black. She was the only child of her parents. When the call came from the police, her mother had no idea it would shatter her complacent upper middle class world forever.
“There was a shooting at Restaurant X,” began the polite voice at the other end. “A young woman was killed. We believe it was your daughter.” Unbelieving and hoping against hope, her parents rushed to the hospital only to find that the victim indeed was their daughter. The killer had sprayed her with bullets bringing instantaneous death. At least she had not suffered, but what comfort could her parents draw from that? This was their beautiful only child, an unspoilt loving young person who had finished her studies and was preparing to go and work for underprivileged children in Johannesburg’s slums.For months and years after her daughter’s death, the mother sought peace and finally found it in the choice she made to forgive the killers. She did not stop at that. She began to work for the Africans who were suffering from South Africa’s policy of racial apartheid, and she went into their dilapidated settlements to help them drill wells so they could get water. She worked relentlessly to remove poverty in the African areas, because she had understood that inequality was one of the reasons why her daughter had been randomly shot to death. Eventually, she met the man who had ordered the shooting in which her daughter died. She says Christ gave her the grace to forgive him, and the two of them began to tour race riven South Africa, sharing their story with others and helping people in the same situation to find grace. Her sharing of her story always moved the audiences to tears, especially when the tall, young African man joined her on the stage after her story telling. This was a modern miracle of love and different audiences listened to the story of forgiveness and learned through it, to forgive. Their audiences came from all religions and races.
However, the miracle came at a great price. The woman was ostracized by several of her friends who ultimately broke off their friendships with her, and her own family wanted nothing to do with her. She traveled wherever she was invited to share her story. Only a few from the white community understood what she had undergone, and what she was trying to do. There were people who were outraged that she could share the same stage with the killer of her daughter. They interpreted it as a betrayal of the memory of her daughter and the beautiful dreams the young woman had had for her life. But the mother strove on, believing that what she was doing was what her daughter would have wanted her to do.
Today the two of them continue to share their story in places where the need for forgiveness is greatest; in countries that have known decades of ethnic conflict and racial hatred, and in societies where aboriginal communities have been slaughtered by white settlers. Many lives have been touched by the message they have to tell: forgiveness is divine, forgiveness is possible, forgiveness heals completely.
It is one of life’s most astounding lessons. It is also the hardest lesson to learn.
Forgiveness is the destination. If we too learn that, we will have learned to live life in the truest sense.

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By EMN Updated: Jan 10, 2014 11:46:34 pm